Dear Psychologist. My problem is that my life does not seem happy anymore. Ever since we came to Finland, I feel everything is difficult and sometimes I even feel as if someone is trying to make my life even harder on purpose, even by my fellow countrymen. The children’s behaviour has also changed, they are learning bad habits from Finnish people and I do not know what to do. I feel that no one is helping me and, for example, the doctors know nothing in here. They have not found anything wrong with me and they will not refer me to a specialist even when I am requesting this. I believe that I would have already been cured in the country that we previously lived in. Our apartment is also too small for us. Our neighbours hate us and because of this they complain about us. I really miss my relatives that live abroad. Their life is very poor and because of it, I have also no appetite here. I often cry because of my life. Before I came to Finland, I was promised that I could study here, even go to the university and then get a good job. That promise has not been met and I have not always even had a place in a language course. I also believed that the state would help us poor people financially, but our benefits here are not enough even for a bus card. Our life here does not seem worth living and I do not know, for God’s name, what could I do?

Dear Questioner,

It sounds like you are going through a difficult time in your life. Moving to a strange culture is not an easy thing to do mentally nor in practice. It is common that maybe your expectations were too high when you came to this country and that you would feel disappointment because of it. I think you are describing a situation just like it; you have had many expectations that have not materialised. It may be a good idea to think what these expectations were based on. What made you think that things would be in Finland the way you thought? Sometimes the simple reason for this is wrong information, sometimes person’s own hopes are so strong that the person starts believing they are true. This can happen, for example, in a situation where the person has struggled to survive from one day to the next by dreaming of better days.

Now, however, you are in Finland and you must meet the reality as it is. You do not mention in your question of anything that has gotton better in your life while you have been here. Thinking of these things could possibly make things easier during the difficult times.  You mentioned many unfortunate things in your question, like, how your fellow countrymen are trying somehow to make your life harder. It is quite usual that in small minority communities, someone is trying to control the lives of others. Sometimes, it is wiser to keep a little distance to difficult people.

Children’s readjustment to new situations often progresses differently to adults. Children adopt new things without prejudice, sometimes even uncritically and they want to be the same as every one else. All this can show up as great personal changes even. Some kind of difficult aspect in a young person’s behaviour with their parents is a natural part of development during the teenage years. It is, of course, important to set up boundaries so that the young people do not harm themselves, but too strict boundaries can also cause many damaging affects. It is important to be consistent and to remember to treat boys and girls equally.

The doctors at the health centres in Finland have received a long and varied training and they are able to treat many different problems. You can believe what the doctor tells you and, if anything, you should be satisfied, if your doctor thinks you do not need the services of a specialist. There are many problems and illnesses that can not be actually treated. Looking after yourself according to your doctor’s advice, improving your general health by regular exercise and by following a healthy diet, you can improve your health yourself too. Therefore, you do not necessarily have to rely on others only.

You were dissatisfied with your living situation, missing your relatives, feeling hopeless with regard to the hopes for the future and your financial situation. It sounds that your mood is low in general and your thinking seems pessimistic. Could it be possible that you could be suffering from depression as a result of the stress and effort needed for readjusting? It is important that you should tell your doctor about your low mood. Do you know what makes your neighbours to feel anxious? Could it be the differences in the way of life? Is it possible that you may be feeling guilty about living well when your relatives are living in poor circumstances? Most likely, you can not help these things in your present financial situation, so feeling guilty about this is a waste of energy. Prosperity even in Finland is proportional as you have noticed with the social benefits. Using the money has to be very well planned. You should also think whether you have set yourself unreasonable demands with respect to university qualifications and other things. Just learning the language for you is a huge challenge that will take a few years and on what you should be able to concentrate on peacefully. In future, even employment may come up from a totally different field that you have thought of. During the life situation now, try to find some happiness in small every day things. SS

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